How grocery store coupons can encourage healthful eating

April 10, 2014, The Washington Post

By Lenny Bernstein

Grocery coupons aren’t associated with nutritious food. Big chains use them to lure you into the store, offering discounts mostly on processed food and snacks. When researchers looked at 1,056 coupons available online for supermarkets nationwide, they found that the largest share (25 percent) were for “processed snack foods, candies, and desserts.” Another 14 percent offered price breaks on prepared meals, 11 percent were for cereals, and 12 percent were for beverages, more than half of which were sodas, juices, and energy or sports drinks.

Just 3 percent offered discounts on vegetables, 1 percent were for unprocessed meats, and fewer than 1 percent provided breaks on fruit prices. And those fruits were canned, not fresh.

If stores make “the unhealthier option less expensive and easier to purchase, we can’t be surprised when [people] purchase it,” said Andrea Lopez, a research analyst at the University of California-San Francisco School of Medicine, who helped conduct the study. It was published in March in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s journal, Preventing Chronic Disease. Continue reading

Analysts blame cheap food for obesity across all groups

May 23, 3014, Los Angeles Times

Our food is cheap — perhaps too cheap, if you look at the intersection of economics and obesity.

Researchers have found that obesity hits all groups of Americans — those with more money and education and those with less. That, and some other findings, challenge the common views about what’s fueling obesity in this country.

“[S]ome widely held beliefs about obesity and environments have little evidence in their favor, and some are contradicted by the data,” the researchers wrote May 22 in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians.

The researchers acknowledge that there are disparities in weight and health among groups of Americans, but they said that trends toward obesity occur in all groups. And they found that some of the circumstances commonly considered to be the causes are not borne out by data. Continue reading

Keep low-calorie foods close to choose them more often

March 20, 2014, Reuters

By Shereen Jegtvig

In a new study suggesting laziness could be tapped as a tool for healthier eating, people reached for low-calorie apple slices more often than buttery popcorn when the apples were within easier reach.

“There are the little things that we can do to just make our diets healthier, and one of them is the simple idea to just put the healthy foods closer to you and you’ll find you can use your laziness to your advantage,” Gregory Privitera told Reuters Health.

Privitera, a psychology researcher at Saint Bonaventure University in Bonaventure, New York, led the study, which he says was inspired by experience with his kids. Continue reading

Fast-food menu offerings vary in dietary quality, but are consistently poor

By analyzing the food menus from the top fast-food restaurant chains in America, new research published in the journal Public Health Nutrition shows that these restaurants do not offer many menu items that meet dietary guidelines for healthy eating. Even those menu items that were part of the kid’s menu or marketed specifically as healthy, still fell far short of meeting dietary recommendations for fruit, vegetables, and whole grains. Continue reading

Obesity risk for kids who don’t taste ‘bitter’

Oct. 30, 2012, Futurity

Children who are less sensitive to bitter tastes are more likely to be obese — but only if they live where healthy food is hard to come by.

Neither genes nor the environment alone can predict obesity in children, but when considered together a strong relationship emerges, a new study shows. Continue reading

Proximity of convenience stores and parks impact children’s weight status

Children living within a one-fourth mile of convenience stores have almost twice the odds of being overweight or obese while those living within a one-half mile of a park have less than half the odds of being overweight of obese according to new research presented Oct. 30 at the American Public Health Association’s (APHA) annual conference. Continue reading